Learn to Recognize & React to Road Hazards for Your Teen

Potential hazards are always on or near the road – other drivers, the environment – and they change moment by moment. Some hazards are so dangerous, we have permanent traffic signs to warn us: sharp curves ahead, flood zones, dead ends. Some are more commonplace: Work zones, a change in the speed limit, one way signs—most of these are easy to identify and there’s usually plenty of time to adjust, even for novice drivers.

Other hazards are more subtle and harder to spot or anticipate: Pedestrians, cyclists, and animals darting into traffic; icy patches on a dark road; emergency vehicles appearing suddenly out of nowhere. Even an experienced driver can have trouble reacting to these hazards.

With years of driving under our belts, we have gotten very good at reacting to these hazards and avoiding them—most of the time. But our newly licensed teens still have a lot to learn. The difference is experience.

In many instances, new teen drivers are unable to identify a potential hazard— they don’t know what to look for, much less how to react.

The science says, they only have about three seconds: One to recognize the hazard, two more to react—but they can’t react to what they don’t see.

This is why your teen must scan the road, constantly. It needs to become second nature, like it is for you. They need use all their mirrors and know what is in front of them, what is behind them, and what is beside them. Most of all, your teen must learn to always be aware and scan the road. It’s helpful to think about What If situations – because on the road, everything is fair game.

Roadside Essentials – Don’t Hit the Road Without These!

Are you already thinking about summer and hitting the highway for a few road trips? Well, don’t forget your emergency kit!

The time is approaching where it’s time to get those dreams realized, get those vacation brochures out and plan your summer trip. Camping? Driving cross country? Maybe going to the amusement park? Wherever your summer takes you, you need to make sure you have this: An emergency roadside supply kit to get you out of a bad situation and back on the road to fun. Even if you had your car checked from “bumper to bumper,” stuff happens. Whether it’s a flat tire or something in the road that gets caught in a belt, you’ll know you’ll be prepared for whatever the summer season has in store for you.

There are a handful of items that every caravan should have in its trunk. Most of these items can be located around the house or garage. A couple of items can be picked up at a hardware or parts store at a low cost. When it comes to the emergency kit, you’ll have to remember: The benefits out-weigh the price tag. Even more importantly, these items will fit into a portable file box or an old duffle bag, so you’ll have more room for luggage or other goods.

1) Battery jump box: Throw away those jumper cables! A battery jump box – which has 101 uses – can save your summer vacation. Accidentally leave the lights on while trying to get the family out of the car for an event? Need a quick charge on your cell phone? Need an extra electrical outlet for a camping item? The battery jump box is your answer! The cost is around $35 to 45 and can be purchased at a big box retail or home improvement store.

2) Tire puncture sealer: This easy to use tire inflator, sealer is a great get you out of a jam product. There is nothing more deflating during a summer trip to come out into the parking lot and see a tire flat on your vehicle. The quick fix to get you to the repair shop for a proper fix? Self-inflating, sealer all compact into a pressurized can. Remember: this is a point A to point B – from the incident to the repair shop — fix! Don’t rely upon it long term! As a courtesy, let the shop know you installed the additive when checking in with the advisor.

3) First aid kit: You never know when walking in the wrong shoes will give you a blister. Catch yourself on a sharp object and cut your finger? How many times have we been looking through papers and got one of those notorious paper cuts? Why do a search and rescue in a strange town for a drug store when you can have all the essentials in your emergency tool kit? Band-Aids, antiseptic, sunburn spray – items you already have in the medicine cabinet – can be within reach within seconds in your kit.

4) Small tool kit: You never know when you might need to make a minor repair on the family truckster this vacation. A burned out tail light bulb? A dangling front bumper air dam? Something you can repair in the driveway with little effort, but need to fix before traveling forward. Small screwdriver set, utility knife, tie-straps, small socket set – all things you find in your garage – can mean the difference of going forward fast or wasting time waiting for a repair at an out of town shop.

5) Duct tape: What a great product with a 1001 uses – at least! Whether it’s putting a temporary fix on an inflatable beach toy, anchoring an object to another or securing a bumper skin after a minor fender bender, this product is a must in every emergency tool kit. And, you don’t have to get the fancy colors or designs. This is strictly for utility use and recommend keeping your monies for souvenirs and purchasing the plain-Jane, gray tape. It’s just as effective.

6) Sealed snacks and drinks: You never know what life’s going to throw at you and this includes a road-side breakdown or accident. Waiting for emergency personnel or a tow truck is no fun. And, sometimes, events like these can turn into hours, so if you or a loved one needs to have a snack every so often to keep health issues in check, I always recommend having sealed snacks – like peanut butter and crackers or sealed packet of fruit juice — to keep you on the road, even if your vehicle isn’t.

7) Mosquito spray: No one likes dealing with the discomfort of a mosquito bite – especially while trying to enjoy a game of mini-golf, outdoor movie or a fishing expedition during summer vacation. The easy fix? Keep mosquito repellant ready. It doesn’t matter if it’s an organic or commercial product, whatever the medium, keep it handy for those after dusk, pre-dawn activities

8) Second set of keys: And, I’m not talking about going out and purchasing another $300 to $500 key to start your vehicle. Everyone needs a backup key. Moving suitcases out of the trunk and the keys accidently get locked inside? Preoccupied with children only to find your keys in the ignition after the doors are locked? Keep money in your wallet and purchase a $10 door lock key – cheaper than a locksmith – to get you out of that jam. I recommend keeping it in an under the car “hide a key” container – easily accessible to you.

9) List of emergency phone numbers: You’ll never know what to do when you’re in a jam and your cell phone is MIA. A printed, emergency phone number list will help get you out of that situation. Accidents, lost smart phones, strange cities can really get a person discombobulated. But, getting in touch with a trusted friend or relative for help is your key to getting you back on the road – fast!

10) Clear painter’s tarp: Want to keep those wet, sandy beach toys from soaking into the car carpet? Have a window that is in the stuck-down position and it’s going to rain? Trying to keep that dirty, nasty blown-out tire away from the suitcases? No time like the present to get out your $1.99 clear painter’s tarp from your emergency roadside kit! This compact, disposal item is a must for that emergency tool kit in the trunk. With a 101 uses, clear painter’s tarp will make life a little easier this summer vacation.

11) Pet provisions: Taking Fido and Fluffy on the road with you? Don’t forget a 1-day backup supply of food, water and pet waste pickup provisions. Also, that list of pet-friendly hotels and restaurants, too. You want to make sure that your furry friends are stress-free, making your trip worry-free.

12) Backup ATM card: Lost your wallet? Need funds fast before the credit card company overnight’s your replacement? Nothing like a pre-paid ATM card to rescue your trip. You can choose any amount according to your budget. And, if you don’t need it for an emergency during your trip? Use it to pay for pizza and drinks when you get back home.

13) LED flares: Remember those nasty, smoky flares you would see on the road when someone “broke-down?” Fast forward to the future: Reusable, LED emergency road flares are now available at a minimal cost – between $10 to $14 – at major home improvement stores or auto parts store.

We hope that this list helped you out! And we also want to remind you that Pop-A-Lock Jacksonville offers Emergency Roadside Assistance if you’re ever in a jam!

Prevent Your Car from Being Stolen

Don’t Make It Easy For Car Thieves

Want to make your vehicle less attractive to car thieves? The quicker a car thief can steal your vehicle, the more attractive it is. Anything you can do to slow down professional car thieves or joy-riders will make your vehicle a less appealing target.

What You Can Do

Here are some ways you can protect your vehicle:

  1. Keep your vehicle locked at all times, even while driving.
  2. When parked, never leave your keys in the car. Close all the windows and the sunroof.
  3. Never leave your car running and unattended.
  4. Avoid leaving valuables inside your vehicle where passersby can see them.
  5. Do not leave your vehicle title in the car. Too often a car thief is pulled over and gets away from the police because he or she can produce the auto registration. (If multiple drivers use the vehicle, the best suggestion would be to hide the registration in a secret location in the car that only the owners know.)
  6. Know where you’re going. Avoid known high crime areas even if the alternate route takes longer.
  7. Install an anti-theft system in your vehicle if it doesn’t have one. Thieves are reluctant to steal vehicles if they know the cars can be recovered quickly. Many insurers offer discounts for the types of systems listed below.
  8. Thieves prefer to work in the dark. Be particularly cautious at night about where you park your car. Park it in a well-lit area if possible.
  9. Look around. Be aware of your surroundings, especially in garages, parking lots and gas stations.
  10. Have your car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) etched on each of the windows. Car thieves want to get off cheap. They don’t want to go to the expense of replacing all the glass.
  11. On an incline, leave your car in park or in gear with the wheels turned toward the curb or some other obstruction. This makes it harder for thieves to tow your vehicle.
  12. If confronted by a carjacker, do not resist. Cars can be replaced; you can’t.

Types Of Anti-Theft Systems

  • A mechanism that locks onto the steering wheel can be a very visible sign that you’ve taken steps to protect your vehicle
  • Ignition cut-off systems that prevent a car from being started
  • Some new cars come with passive alarms that activate automatically when the key is removed from the ignition
  • One system emits a signal that can be tracked by the police

Who You’re Dealing With

Professional Thieves

  • Professionals commit the majority of auto thefts
  • They prefer high-performance cars, as well as less exotic, more popular models whose parts are interchangeable
  • These thieves usually turn the cars they steal over to “chop shops,” which dismantle them and sell the parts
  • They also steal cars for export to other countries, often “stealing to order” to fulfill requests for certain types of vehicles


Joy-riders favor high-performance or luxury cars. These cars are usually recovered but often suffer significant damage.


Carjackers may bump your car from the rear, then steal it when you get out to look for damage. When stopped at a traffic light, leave room to maneuver around the vehicle ahead if you need to. If another car bumps yours and you feel threatened, drive to a populated area or, if you have a cellular phone, call the police for assistance.